Rum Bum Racing has scored a dramatic second straight win and third win of the year, in a fuel mileage derby at Virginia International Raceway, the eighth round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season.
Adding to the drama was the fact Rum Bum, which started fourth and led only the final two laps, ran the entire second half of the race without power steering.
Matt Plumb limped the No. 13 Porsche 911 around to the finish in the car he shared with Hugh Plumb, only mere moments after the prior race-leading No. 99 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and No. 14 Doran Racing Nissan 370Z both ran out of fuel in the closing stages of the two-hour, 30-minute race.
It promoted the two Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.Rs to podium positions in GS, with Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell ahead of points leaders Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell.
The Plumbs ran either second or third throughout most of their stint, never contending for the lead, and fell back to sixth in the final half hour behind the No. 9 Camaro, No. 99 Aston Martin, No. 14 Nissan, No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 and the pressed-into-action No. 51 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R.
One-by-one, though, the cars ahead of the Rum Bum Porsche began peeling off. Trent Hindman pitted the BMW on Lap 58 with Billy Johnson in a lap later in the Ford, and Aschenbach in a lap after that in the No. 9 Camaro.
It appeared the race would come down to the underdogs, with BJ Zacharias in the No. 14 Nissan and Brett Sandberg in the No. 99 Aston Martin exchanging the lead several times, but both fell short of a surprise victory.
Zacharias was first to fade, on Lap 65, when he slowed on course just before the Esses, out of fuel and eventually stopping at the Oak Tree Bend.
Sandberg then limped around to the pit lane, planning a splash of fuel to ensure at least a podium finish, but didn’t stop as the race went under full-course caution for the stalled Nissan. Once Sandberg re-emerged from the pits, he didn’t have enough fuel to make it either, and he stopped on course on the backstraight.
The fuel gambles dropped Sandberg and Al Carter to seventh, and Zacharias and polesitter Brad Jaeger to eighth.
As for the Plumbs, they closed more points on the points-leading pair of Davis and Liddell. Matt Plumb secured his 22nd career win to extend his record for most in series history.
“If Hugh wasn’t complaining, then I better not complain,” Matt Plumb said. “The car was very hard to drive (after the power steering loss), but the car was perfect. I actually got the call saying, ‘You’ve conserved enough,’ and to go get the leader.”
The yellow allowed Rum Bum to bring it home on one fewer stop, having not stopped since Lap 31, with an hour and 13 minutes remaining.
In ST, Rennsport One’s Spencer Pumpelly and Luis Rodriguez Jr. had redemption in ST, surviving on fuel after running out on the final lap at Road America, to score their third win of the year in the No. 17 Porsche Cayman.
Rodriguez got the car up from 10th to fifth in his stint, before handing to Pumpelly, who took the lead on Lap 36 with an hour and a half to go. It marked both drivers’ first wins at VIR, and was emotional for Pumpelly.
“Without question this is my favorite place we race,” Pumpelly said. “It’s the best track, best safety, best staff. To finally pull off a win with Luis Rodriguez Jr. after a great opening stint was great. It was pretty uneventful. We didn’t really fight once we were clear of the 34.”
It would have been a Cayman podium sweep, and a Rennsport One one-two, before contact took Remo Ruscitti in the team’s second car out of second place, having lost a wheel on the last lap. Ruscitti alleged post-race it was contact from Johnson that took him out of the race.
Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing were promoted to second in the polesitting No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche, with Alara Racing’s pair of Justin Piscitell and Christian Szymczak completing the podium in the No. 34 Mazda MX-5.
Freedom Autosport’s Andrew Carbonell finished fourth in the car he shared with Tom Long with the No. 31 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman fifth. The prior points-leading No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 finished seventh.
RESULTS: Round 8